My teaching philosophy centers on providing my students not only the academic theory, but also learning skills in order to prepare them to become life-long learners. To prepare myself be a competent teacher, I have attained the level of CIRTL Associate by participating in the training program of Evidence-based Introduction to Teaching (EBIT) offered by the Graduate Teacher Program at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2017. This training not only prepares me to adopt effective teaching skills by exposing me to some interesting ideas from education research literature, but also stimulates me to incorporate my disciplinary research into teaching to benefit student learning and outcomes. It is my belief that the students can learn more if they actively interact with other students and leaning content. To transform students into active learners, I wish to incorporate a number of student-centered guiding principles in my future teaching.
Pragmatism: Knowing the practical application not only triggers great interest in the students, but also enhances understanding of academic theory in class. As a graduate teaching assistant in an undergraduate-level Materials Characterization course, I introduced various surface analysis techniques to students by bringing the samples I fabricated in the laboratory into the class and asking the students to have a group discussion about how to characterize these samples to validate the success of surface modification. I asked different groups to present their solutions in the class. Through case study and peer discussion, the students grasped the principles of characterization techniques and understood their application very well. In addition, they became very interested in having a laboratory tour to know how I did material modification and characterization.
Interactive engagement: One factor that strongly influences learning efficiency is student engagement. I will try to develop different activities targeting learning goals and promoting student engagement. I have found peer-discussion and student lecture to be especially effective techniques. When I first started lecturing homework/quiz-review sections of a junior-level undergraduate Solid Mechanics II course, I simply told the students the solution to each problem by traditional lecture. But I found that students could not solve a follow-up problem correctly for the same concept. I tried to change my teaching method by asking students to discuss problems in small groups and each group was assigned a different problem. I circulated and joined different groups to answer their questions if they had any, and a volunteer from each group was asked to present their solutions in the class. I found the students had a deep understanding of the problems through such interactive learning than a traditional lecture, because these instructor-student and student-student interactions facilitate active thinking and effective learning.
Multiple teaching formats: I understand that students have different strengths and each individual has his/her own the most effective learning style. I will accommodate different learning needs in order to maximize the learning outcomes using multi-media. For example, in order to introduce the development of 3D printers, I will ask the students to watch videos in class, read some materials, discuss with their peers, and write essays. Having four different opportunities to learn about this topic – observing, reading, discussing, and writing about the content – will help engage all the different learning styles of students.
Well-aligned assessments: The well-designed assessments should closely align with learning objectives and instructional strategies. I wish to refer the Bloom’s Taxonomy to design appropriate formative and summative assessments to reveal whether students have achieved the learning objectives. For instance, when teaching a Biomanufacturing and 3D Bioprinting course, to assess the students’ knowledge and understanding of 3D bioprinting techniques, I would have students create concept maps to address the questions like “what is the general process flow for 3D bioprinting?”. To assess the students’ synthesis and creativity of learning, I would have students do a project by design and fabrication of a 3D tissue model via 3D bioprinting. In addition, I would ask students to do peer-assessments of 3D bio-printed products and presentations, which provides a great opportunity for peer review and learning.